Everything you ever wanted to know about quilting with a twin needle

In this five part series we’ll explore some of the different ways that you can use a SCHMETZ twin or double needle for quilting on your home sewing machine.

The possibilities are endless so let’s have a little fun!

A variety of SCHMETZ twin needles appropriate to quilting

What is a twin needle and how do I use it on my home sewing machine?

A twin needle, also known as a double needle, is a single shank with two needles attached. It’s used to make two parallel rows of simultaneous stitches.

This needle is attached to your home sewing machine the same way as a regular sewing needle.
You must have a zigzag sewing machine as opposed to a straight stitch only machine.

This is because a straight stitch machine does not have a large enough opening in the needle plate to allow the twin needle to pass through.

A twin or double needle

The needle package gives you important information

The top of my package says SCHMETZ. This is the name of the company that makes the needles I’m using. Top quality needles allow your machine to make the best possible stitch.
I know I can depend on SCHMETZ needles to give me beautiful results.

The second piece of information the package tells me is that I have a Twin Needle.
Under the words Twin Needle it says 130/705H-J ZWI. This is just a code that means that it has a flat back home sewing machine needle with a scarf (little notch) just above the eye of the needle.

J means it’s a jeans needle and ZWI means it’s a twin needle.

The most important pieces of information are what comes next.

This package has the words Jeans Denim easily confirming the information given in short form.
Twin needles have the same properties as their single siblings so we know that a jeans twin will have a nice sharp point to easily pierce all of our layers of fabric and batting.

The numbers at the bottom of the package tell you the space between the two needles and the size of the needles.

On the left is the distance between the two needles. In this case 4.0. The larger the number the larger the space.

On the right is the size of the needle. Once again, the larger the number the larger the needle.
This one is a size 100 so it’s quite thick and has a large eye.
These properties make it a good choice for quilting as it won’t bend too easily and the
large eye can easily accommodate 50 weight cotton or heavier thread.

Twin needles are available in a variety of types and sizes. For our twin needle quilting we’ll use the Universal, Embroidery, Jeans and Metallic needles. These range in size from 1.6/70 all the way up to 8.0/100 with the Universal category having the most options to choose from.

The size of the opening in the zigzag plate of your sewing machine will determine the maximum distance between the two needles that you can use.

TIP To determine the widest distance between needles that you can use check your machines zigzag settings.
If your widest stitch is a 5 then your widest twin needle will be a 4.
If your widest zigzag is 7 then your widest twin needle will be a 6.
If your widest zigzag is 9 then you can use the largest twin needle of 8.

A needle package contains valuable information

Threading your machine

Using a twin needle requires two spools of thread on the top and a single bobbin below.
The two top threads are both caught and held in place by the single bobbin thread. This gives the stitch on the bottom the look of a false zigzag. We’ll explore this in detail on day four this week.

Machine ready to thread using two upper spool pins

It’s possible to wind a bobbin and use it for your extra top thread if you don’t have two spools.

A bobbin can be used in place of a second spool of thread

Wind a bobbin with the same weight and type of thread as you’ll be using on the top. I’ll be using 50 weight cotton in the top and bobbin.

If you’re using small spools of thread you’ll sometimes be able to put both spools onto one spool holder.

When using two larger spools of thread you’ll need to use two separate spool holders. Most machines have this capability.

Two small spools of thread will often fit on one spool pin

If your machine doesn’t have two spool pins or if the spool pins are too small to allow your thread to feed smoothly then an upright cone thread holder is an ideal tool.

UNIQUE cone thread holder available at your local quilt store

Thread both threads through the normal pathway.

First thread the left needle from the standard spool pin. This will be the one closest to the left side of your sewing machine. Once again, follow the normal pathway and thread the right needle from the secondary spool pin. Threading the needles one at a time will keep them from twisting together.

Keep the threads from twisting as you thread a twin needle

If the threads seem to want to tangle then put the one on the right through the last thread guide and the one on the left in front of the last guide.

Remember Don’t use the needle threader on your machine to thread a twin needle. You could jam the needle threader and cause damage to the machine. If you have an automatic needle threader consider putting a sticky note over the activation button as a reminder not to push it! Place your bobbin in the machine and bring up the bobbin thread.

Skip the last guide to prevent tangling

Some computerized sewing machines have an internal setting that you activate to tell the machine what twin needle you have on the machine. Using this setting will give you optimum stitch quality as it helps control the thread tension. It’ll also prevent you from selecting a stitch that’s too wide for the twin needle you have on the machine.

Set the internal settings if required by your sewing machine

My machine is threaded with a twin needle on and I’m ready to go!

A 4.0 twin needle threaded and ready for quilting

Come back tomorrow to learn how to use SCHMETZ twin needles with a walking foot to add easy detail to a straight line quilting.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Let your walking foot work its magic for easy twin needle quilting

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Cathy mitchell December 7, 2018 - 1:59 am
Julie, I was so happy to see that i could use the twin needle to get the stipple look(simular). I am a beginner and i am having a blast so far. I just found your site tonight and read all 5 of the sections on walking foot, twin needles and answered a lot of my questions. I really look forward to reading and learning more.
Judith Arnott June 13, 2018 - 1:34 pm
Julie, you are amazing! I wish I had taken classes with you when I lived in Nanaimo years ago! This info re twin needles cleared up a lot of my "difficulties", and my Janome machines also thank you because I am no longer swearing and giving up! ¡Muchas gracias, amiga!
Julie Plotniko September 13, 2018 - 7:38 pm
Hi Judith Thanks for the nice compliment. I'm so glad that you are enjoying both the twin needles as well as your machine.
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